October 7, 2011

GAF Scores and Your Social Security Disability Claim

If you are applying for Social Security disability benefits or are appealing a denied Social Security disability benefits claim in Indiana and you are confused by what’s going on, you may not be alone.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis talks to potential disability clients on a frequent basis about the complex issues that arise during a disability claim.  There may be words that are difficult to understand or abbreviations that are hard to figure out in the disability process.  If you are suffering from a mental disorder and your psychiatrist or therapist talks about a “GAF” score you may wonder exactly what they are referring to.

A Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score is a number used to rate individuals social, occupational, and psychological functioning.  The numbers range from 0 to 100 and are generally classified in the following way:

  • 91 -100 Superior range of functioning in a wide range of activities.
  • 81 – 90  Absent of minimal symptoms.
  • 71 – 80  If symptoms are present they are transient and expectable reactions to psychosocial stressors.
  • 61 -70  Some mild symptoms.
  • 51-60  Moderate symptoms.
  • 41-50  Serious symptoms.
  • 31- 40  Some impairments in reality testing or communication.
  • 21 – 30  Behavior is considerably influenced by delusions or hallucinations.
  • 11 -20  Some danger of hurting self or others.
  • 1 – 10  Persistent danger of hurting self or others.

It is important to note that the above is only a general framework defining GAF scores, and more information can be obtained describing each category in more detail.  Indianapolis Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis urges his clients to seek the care of a qualified mental health professional to assess your mental impairments.  GAF scores can be used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in determining the severity of your mental condition.

Mr. Lewis attends numerous Social Security disability appeals hearings in Indiana and, at times, finds a medical expert at the hearing is very interested in knowing how high or low an individual’s GAF score is.  If you are suffering from a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, or any other disabling condition, contact Mr. Lewis for your free consultation.  Call (317) 423-8888 to discuss your case with Mr. Lewis and his staff.

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